As our natural resources continue to deplete, we must prepare to make drastic changes in our lifestyles. Choosing to live sustainably is the first step in securing our planet's future. A great way to make the world a more eco-friendly place is to change the way we build. Creating green homes, offices and buildings can reduce our carbon footprints and provide a bright future for generations to come.

As an internationally recognized green building program, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) provides guidelines for constructing, designing and maintaining green buildings. By following these guidelines, LEED will certify your home, office or building as sustainable, placing you at the forefront of eco-friendly living. While participation in LEED is completely voluntary, being involved demonstrates leadership in social responsibility and environmental stewardship.

Why choose LEED?

  • Green buildings lower operating costs and increase building value.
  • Using eco-friendly materials reduces the amount of waste sent to landfills.
  • Sustainable builds conserve energy, lowering harmful emissions in the environment.
  • Following LEED-sustainable standards provides a healthy environment for occupants.
  • Green designs are innovative.
  • Certification establishes a commitment to the environment and is a symbol of social responsibility.

How to get certified

LEED has created a points system for determining the sustainability of a new or existing build. For a building to be considered LEED-certified, it must earn a minimum of 40 points, or credits, on a 110 point scale. The more credits a building gets, the more sustainable it is. There are a lot of ways to earn points without blowing your budget. Even simple choices, such as plants or type of materials, can impact your home's sustainability potential.

Main Credit Categories include:

  • Water efficiency: Reducing water use is a cost-effective, sustainable solution.Points can be earned by installing water-efficient fixtures, installing rain barrels or planting native landscaping materials that require little water.
  • Materials and resources: There are many different types of eco-friendly materials you can use when building a home. Try using low-emitting paints, buying local materials, repurposing materials or utilizing eco-friendly flooring.
  • Sustainable sites: Integrating the natural environment, such as native landscaping, with a building provides a balanced environment. Earn points by choosing a building type with little impact on the surroundings, a building site that does not have sensitive elements or a location near mass transit facilities to reduce potential pollution from cars.
  • Indoor Environmental Quality: Improve on indoor air quality through increased ventilation or by installing controlled systems for heating and cooling.
  • Energy and Atmosphere: Finding ways to lower your energy use is not only good for your wallet, it’s good for the environment. Earn points by installing energy-efficient appliances, adding windows to reduce lighting costs or using green energy resources such as solar panels.

While the above are good guidelines of what credits you can expect to find when getting a building certified, the LEED rating system varies by type of building. For example, if you are building a home you must prove different credits than someone building a hotel. Once you have determined which rating system is right for you, register your project with the U.S. Green Building Council and submit your application.

History

LEED was founded in 1993 by conservationist Robert Watson. Since its creation, LEED has become a standard by which sustainable buildings are measured. Today, LEED projects have been established in 135 countries, with more than half of certified buildings located internationally.

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